A delusion is something that people believe in despite a total lack of evidence.
A universe with a God would look quite different from a universe without one. A physics, a biology where there is a God is bound to look different. So the most basic claims of religion are scientific. Religion is a scientific theory.
At least the fundamentalists haven’t tried to dilute their message. Their faith is exposed for what it is for all to see.
At the deepest level, all living things that have ever been looked at have the same DNA code. And many of the same genes.
But perhaps the rest of us could have separate classes in science appreciation, the wonder of science, scientific ways of thinking, and the history of scientific ideas, rather than laboratory experience.
By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.
Complex, statistically improbable things are by their nature more difficult to explain than simple, statistically probable things.
Design can never be an ultimate explanation for anything. It can only be a proximate explanation. A plane or a car is explained by a designer but that’s because the designer himself, the engineer, is explained by natural selection.
Evolution never looks to the future.
Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.
For the first half of geological time our ancestors were bacteria. Most creatures still are bacteria, and each one of our trillions of cells is a colony of bacteria.
God exists, if only in the form of a meme with high survival value, or infective power, in the environment provided by human culture.
I accept that there may be things far grander and more incomprehensible than we can possibly imagine.
I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
I am one of those scientists who feels that it is no longer enough just to get on and do science. We have to devote a significant proportion of our time and resources to defending it from deliberate attack from organised ignorance.
I am very comfortable with the idea that we can override biology with free will.
I didn’t have a very starry school career, I was medium to above average, nothing special.
I do disapprove very strongly of labelling children, especially young children, as something like ‘Catholic children’ or ‘Protestant children’ or ‘Islamic children.’
I don’t feel depressed. I feel elated.
I don’t know what to think about magic and fairy tales.
I have often said that I am a passionate Darwinian when it comes to explaining why we exist.
I love romantic poetry.
I love words.
I mean I think that when you’ve got a big brain, when you find yourself planted in a world with a brain big enough to understand quite a lot of what you see around you, but not everything, you naturally fall to thinking about the deep mysteries. Where do we come from? Where does the world come from? Where does the universe come from?
I once wrote that anybody who believes the world is only 6,000 years old is either ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.
I suppose if you look back to your early childhood you accept everything people tell you, and that includes a heavy dose of irrationality – you’re told about tooth fairies and Father Christmas and things.
I think looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious affect on rationality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something for research.
I was confirmed at my prep school at the age of 13.
I’m a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims.
I’m not one of those who wants to purge our society of our Christian history.
If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists.
If ever there was a slamming of the door in the face of constructive investigation, it is the word miracle. To a medieval peasant, a radio would have seemed like a miracle.
Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence.
Isn’t it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it?
It has become almost a cliche to remark that nobody boasts of ignorance of literature, but it is socially acceptable to boast ignorance of science and proudly claim incompetence in mathematics.
It would be intolerant if I advocated the banning of religion, but of course I never have.
It’s an important point to realize that the genetic programming of our lives is not fully deterministic. It is statistical – it is in any animal merely statistical – not deterministic.
It’s very likely that most mammals have consciousness, and probably birds, too.
Let us try to teach generosity and altruism, because we are born selfish.
Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.
Metaphors are fine if they aid understanding, but sometimes they get in the way.
My decision to be a scientist was a bit of a drift really, more or less by default.
My interest in biology was pretty much always on the philosophical side.
My personal feeling is that understanding evolution led me to atheism.
Natural selection is anything but random.
Nothing is wrong with peace and love. It is all the more regrettable that so many of Christ’s followers seem to disagree.
Of course in science there are things that are open to doubt and things need to be discussed. But among the things that science does know, evolution is about as certain as anything we know.
One of the things that is wrong with religion is that it teaches us to be satisfied with answers which are not really answers at all.
Personally, I rather look forward to a computer program winning the world chess championship. Humanity needs a lesson in humility.
Physicists are working on the Big Bang, and one day they may or may not solve it.
Religion is about turning untested belief into unshakable truth through the power of institutions and the passage of time.
Religious fanatics want people to switch off their own minds, ignore the evidence, and blindly follow a holy book based upon private ‘revelation’.
Science coverage could be improved by the recognition that science is timeless, and therefore science stories should not need to be pegged to an item in the news.
Scientists disagree among themselves but they never fight over their disagreements. They argue about evidence or go out and seek new evidence. Much the same is true of philosophers, historians and literary critics.
Segregation has no place in the education system.
Something pretty mysterious had to give rise to the origin of the universe.
Sometimes I think it’s possible to mistake desire for clarity and talking in a no-nonsense way for aggression.
The Bible should be taught, but emphatically not as reality. It is fiction, myth, poetry, anything but reality. As such it needs to be taught because it underlies so much of our literature and our culture.
The chances of each of us coming into existence are infinitesimally small, and even though we shall all die some day, we should count ourselves fantastically lucky to get our decades in the sun.
The enlightenment is under threat. So is reason. So is truth. So is science, especially in the schools of America.
The essence of life is statistical improbability on a colossal scale.
The fact that life evolved out of nearly nothing, some 10 billion years after the universe evolved out of literally nothing, is a fact so staggering that I would be mad to attempt words to do it justice.
The idea of an afterlife where you can be reunited with loved ones can be immensely consoling – though not to me.
The meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry.
The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer. I think that it is a scientific question. My answer is no.
The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity.
The universe doesn’t owe us condolence or consolation; it doesn’t owe us a nice warm feeling inside.
The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.
There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can’t prove that there aren’t any, so shouldn’t we be agnostic with respect to fairies?
Today the theory of evolution is about as much open to doubt as the theory that the earth goes round the sun.
We are a very, very unusual species.
We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.
We humans are an extremely important manifestation of the replication bomb, because it is through us – through our brains, our symbolic culture and our technology – that the explosion may proceed to the next stage and reverberate through deep space.
What has ‘theology’ ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has ‘theology’ ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? What makes you think that ‘theology’ is a subject at all?
When I say that human beings are just gene machines, one shouldn’t put too much emphasis on the word ‘just.’ There is a very great deal of complication, and indeed beauty in being a gene machine.